‘Free State, Northern Cape to free 2800 inmates’

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More than 2800 Free State and Northern Cape prisoners will go free under the remission of sentences announced by President Jacob Zuma last month, the Volksblad newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Deputy regional commissioner Grace Molatedi told the newspaper 1927 prisoners, out of 2869, would be released form the Grootvlei prison outside Bloemfontein.

According to the report, Grootvlei was 114 percent overcrowded.

Zuma announced a remission of sentences on Freedom Day on April 27, which he said was in keeping with the spirit of the celebration of the country's 18 years of freedom, and in line with international practice.

He said there would be a six months' blanket special remission of sentence for all sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees. An additional 12 months' special remission would be made for all sentenced inmates, probationers and parolees, excluding those sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug-related offences, and people declared dangerous criminals.

Molatedi said victims had to understand that offenders could not stay in prison for ever.

“This we can assure you: we will not make faults (with releases). Everyone released will adhere to stringent requirements and must have followed a rehabilitation programme. There is control even afterwards,” she told the newspaper.

There was a remission of sentences when former president Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on May 10, 1994; on the first Freedom Day on April 27, 1995; on Mandela's 80th birthday on July 18, 1998; and to mark the first year of former president Thabo Mbeki's second term in office on May 30, 2005.

Molatedi said only 0.25 percent of those released in 2005 transgressed again.

According to the Volksblad, 220 offenders had already been conditionally released at the prison authority’s social integration centre in the Bloemfontein central business area. They had been held for less serious crimes. Offenders still in prison would be released from May 14.

Women offenders would be released from the Kroonstad prison on Thursday. - Sapa


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